5 for Friday: Making and Breaking Connections

St. Paul Sunrise

Happy Friday and welcome to the third post in our series that complements the Here to There podcast.

This week's theme is Connectivity and the ways transportation systems, modes, and infrastructure both connect and disconnect us. This episode was extra special for me because our commuter was none other than my dad, Bill Monn, who makes a daily Chanhassen-to-St. Paul round-trip. Don't miss the distinctly parent/child conversation where I chide him for going to a brick and mortar bank to make a deposit.

Hear it here and then read on below:

  1. From Curbed - Supercommuters are growing exponentially and, no, it doesn't come with a cape: A supercommuter is someone who drives over 90 minutes each way. Not only are commute times rising (the average commute clocked in at 26.4 minutes in 2015), more people are driving alone (11 million more people drove to work alone in 2014 than in 2000). Of course, this brings up a very interesting discussion about the inextricable link between affordable housing, desirable jobs, and commute times...

  2. From City Pages - Traffic is the answer, not the problem: No surprise, but I like where the author goes with this. While one side of the house says that we've spent too much money on buses and bike lanes when we could have spent it on widening overcrowded highways, the author argues that it's all good -- more traffic just incentivizes more efficient, environmentally friendly travel options. A little pain, even more gain.

  3. From NY Mag - The science of your commute might surprise you: Here are 11 facts that may have you looking for a new way to get from here to there (spoiler: stay tuned for episode 6 on bringing flexibility into your commute). The worst of it? You can never really adapt to your commute: “Driving in traffic is a different kind of hell every day" (Harvard University psychologist Daniel Gilbert).

  4. From WaPo - Highways as front lines: This article is a year old but still incredibly relevant today, especially when you listen to the Connectivity episode of Here to There and learn about the Rondo Neighborhood and the initiative to reconnect it. While some see highways as great connectors, they're also disconnectors and disruptors. This article talks about the psychology behind protesting by blocking off major highways and why it's a move that's steeped in far more history than you might realize.

  5. From The Atlantic - How highways increase poverty: Similar to the item above, this piece from The Atlantic digs further into the history of the highway boom of the 1950s and how it contributed to systemic poverty, sprawl, and segregation. It's more than just highways that got us these results, of course, but this article does a nice job illustrating just how far-reaching poor planning can take you.

Just for fun: Here's a funny yet terffiying Commuter Barbie ad.

See you next week for a recap to go with episode 4 on livability!

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